An ancient connection: the Company’s thriving patronage in Shropshire


With an ancient connection to the haberdashery trade, Albrighton and its sister churches in Donington and Boningale have been in the Haberdashers’ family of church patronages since the 1600s. A summer visit by the Company was a delight.


A quick online search reveals that Albrighton in Shropshire has an ancient connection with the haberdashery trade, as a manufacturer of buttons. This was in the early 1600s, at a similar time as when Dame Mary Weld left money in her will to purchase the patronage of Albrighton in Shropshire.

In June 2023, twelve Haberdashers visited all three churches in the benefice: St Mary’s, Albrighton, St. Chad’s, Boningale and St. Cuthbert’s, Donington. Each church has a distinct character and ministry, and we received a warm welcome at each one.

The Reverend Mary Thomas is the main incumbent across the benefice, competently supported by the associate minister (formerly the curate there), the Reverend Jess Harper. There is a strong team of church wardens and volunteers who support them both in their ministry.

There is much to celebrate across all three worshipping communities. There are positive and healthy relationships between the three churches and the wider community, which have grown over the past few years.

In particular, there is a flourishing schools’ ministry, a growing Messy Church (attracting over 70 people each time), Cosy Cafe outreach (originally started as a warm space to help those struggling with high energy bills but rebranded as a friendship space), and community involvement in the planning and delivery of the annual St Mary’s Beer and Music festival.

Tiny Club is their new and very popular toddler group. This is going from strength to strength as it is one of the few places locally where young families can meet up with no financial outlay. The popular St Mary’s Tea Room is their new monthly afternoon tea event. Again, there is no charge for entry, and it remains self-sufficient through donations.

The challenge for the team is how to attract and keep young families whilst sustaining and nourishing those who attend regularly.

So lovely to welcome you all to our little corner of the world. You have blessed us all more than you know. Revd Mary Thomas

The deputation agreed that it was a delight to visit the benefice, which has so much going for it. The Company looks forward to seeing the churches flourish and grow in the coming years. 

Charlie Bell, Liveryman and Susan Barry, Director for Charities